ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued contempt of court notice to the secretary of IHC Bar Association for trying to force lawyers to leave courtrooms and take part in a protest.
The court also suspended his licence.
The IHC bar secretary, Mohammad Umair Baloch, had issued a strike call against police action against lawyers who raided Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) on Wednesday.
On Thursday, he entered the courtroom of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and started forcing lawyers to leave the courtroom because of his strike call.The IHC chief justice asked him to refrain from disturbing the proceedings and undermining the decorum of the court.
In response, as per the court order sheet, Mr Baloch “came to the rostrum and, in a tone unbecoming of the conduct of an enrolled advocate, stated that instead of stopping him the judge should encourage the strike.”
IHC chief justice issues contempt notice to Umair Baloch for entering his courtroom and asking lawyers to observe strike
Other advocates present in the courtroom forced Mr Baloch to leave.
Later, Mr Baloch also said media persons may be barred from entering the court premises if they did not show a ‘positive’ image of the lawyers.
Justice Minallah observed that other judges had also reported that Mr Baloch interfered in proceedings of their courtrooms too.
“The aforesaid acts also amounted to depriving the litigants from the right of access to justice,” the chief justice observed.
“Acts and conduct of Mr Baloch amount to professional misconduct and contempt punishable under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003,” the court noted.
Subsequently, Justice Minallah directed the registrar office to issue a show-cause notice to Mr Baloch requiring him to explain why he may not be punished under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.
The office was further directed to issue notices to the vice chairman, Pakistan Bar Council, president Supreme Court Bar Association and vice chairman Islamabad Bar Council for assistance.
Moreover, Advocate General Islamabad Niazullah Khan Niazi was also put on notice.
“Keeping in view the gravity of the aforementioned acts and conduct, the licence of Mr Baloch to practice before this court shall remain suspended till the next date fixed under the Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act 1973,” the court ruled.
The registrar office was directed to serve the notice on Mr Baloch as well as others mentioned in the order sheet through a special messenger. Further hearing in the matter was adjourned to Dec 19.
Lawyers give strike call
The IHC Bar Association on Thursday evening announced to observe a strike against suspension of Mr Baloch’s licence.
In a statement, the association’s Joint Secretary Waqar Ahmed Gondal said the lawyers would observe a strike and boycott courts on Thursday.
The licence of any lawyer appearing in courts would be cancelled and a reference would be sent to the bar council against them.
He said action was also being taken against those lawyers who appeared in courts despite the strike call given by the IHC and other bar councils on Thursday.
Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2019